During the Wars of the Roses a seventeen-year-old known as Edward of Westminster was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. He is the only Prince of Wales to have been killed in battle. That’s really the only reason I include him, because he wasn’t that important; the line of succession was seen more as a guide than a rule during the Wars of the Roses, so being Prince of Wales didn’t mean as much as it now does.
With the death of Edward and his father (Henry VI), Edward IV became king for a second time (you see why I find the Wars of the Roses tricky?) and on his death his son, Edward V, succeeded him, though he was never crowned. I’m not quite sure whether he was a King or not, as he’s often referred to as one of the Princes in the Tower. Having said that, as I claimed him as a King in an earlier post I can’t have him here too.
However, I’m on firmer ground with Edward’s brother Richard of Shrewsbury, the Duke of York. He was definitely never a King. I’m not even going to start on the subject of the Princes in the Tower, as plenty of people have already covered ti, but what if Lambert Simnel or Perkin Warbeck really was Richard?
Lambert Simnel initially claimed to be Richard but then claimed to be Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick. He was only 10 years old at the time. His rebellion was crushed at Stoke Field, just outside Newark, in the last battle of the War of the Roses.
Julia took part in a re-enactment at Stoke Field before we were married. I didn’t. In the end I was proved the better judge, as I wasn’t me who ended up limping for two weeks after being hit in the ankle by a mistimed arrow. Before you ask, it had a rubber tip but still left an impressive bruise.
Simnel’s position was somewhat weakened by the fact that Edward Plantagenet was still alive, though nobody seems to have mentioned this at the time. Recognising that he had been led astray by cynical adults, Henry VII employed him as a spit turner in the kitchen, and later as a falconer.
Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Prince Richard. He facially resembled members of the family, and may even have been one of Edward IV’s illegitimate children according to some theories. He was recognised as Richard IV by Emperor, Maximilian of the HolyRoman Empire, and formed an alliance with James IV of Scotland. In many ways he was a much more serious threat than Simnel, though he was still treated well by Henry after his capture.
He tried to escape twice, the second time in the company of Edward Plantagenet (remember him?) They were executed in November 1499, Warbeck by hanging and Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick by beheading. These social distinctions were important.
Next, we have Prince Arthur. If he’d have lived we would have been spared endless quiz questions about the six wives of Henry VIII. Arthur was seen as the great hope of the Tudors, uniting the houses of York and Lancaster, and was named after the legendary King to make his family seem more ancient. At the age of 15 he was married to Catherine of Aragon. Yes, that one. Six months later he was dead.
Catherine was a great political match so, after consultation, the parents decided that rather than waste all the arrangements they had made, she should marry his brother Henry. This needed a Papal dispensation.
Later Henry would use her marriage to his brother to obtain an anullment. If Arthur had lived, or if Henry had married someone else…
Alternative history can be so interesting. Or pointless. Without the death of Arthur we might never have had a Church of England, and I might have been writing this in Latin.
One more for this section – Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, illegitimate son of Henry VIII. Henry was happy to acknowledge him, as can be seen from the fact he made him a Duke, and used him as evidence that he could father a healthy boy. There were even rumours, at one time, that the measures he was taking to secure the succession could be used to allow Henry Fitzroy to take the throne.
I’d never heard of him until I started doing the research (which is one of the things I love about blogging), but he’s interesting, as are the possible consequeness – no Armada, no Mary Queen of Scots, no Union with Scotland…
To be continued…